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Town hears soccer dome update

Developer agrees to adjust building location at Wemple Road site

— The Bethlehem Soccer Club previously wanted to build a permanent structured facility, but they could not raise the funds and did not have the volunteers to run the facility full-time.

The new plans call for relocating some of the outdoor fields on the property in order to place the indoor facility farther away from neighbors.

Neighbors had previously been against the plan, fearing the large dome structure would reduce property values and harm the tranquility of the area. Developers said they are now working more closely with neighbors to compromise on the facility’s location and aesthetics.

Traffic was initially another big concern. To mitigate the issue, Brian Sipperly, of L. Sipperly and Associates, said more of a buffer could be placed in between games to help with traffic flow. Lanes in the parking lot will also be widened with a larger drop-off area. The property’s parking lot will also be improved, with two smaller lots added and changes to the exit and entrances.

Neighbors had also asked for a fence to be added to separate different property lines. The developers agreed to place a 6-foot chain link fence along the western portion of the property and extend it to the Miltowne Plaza property. In addition, safety netting would be installed to keep soccer balls from going onto neighbors’ yards but doors would be placed in the link fence to retrieve balls just in case.

Nearby resident Louis Hauf said he still would like to see the fence extended to keep older kids from going into his back field.

“I’ve found beer cans out there,” he said. “I know the soccer club doesn’t condone that, but I’m trying to keep them from going back there.”

One board member asked if the soccer club and Nezaj would look into placing signs near the entrances and exits reminding visitors to be respectful of the neighbors. Jeremy Martelle, the club’s president, said they could look into the matter, but it could cause confusion with their agreement with Afrim Sports.

“We love this project, but we also want to be respectful of the neighbors,” said planning board member Leah Farrell.

The public hearing for the Wemple Road project will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 18.

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